Prototyping In Design- What You Should Know

Jul 13, 2020 :: Ayoleyi Lurogho , Product Design

ICT Support

Yes, It can be easy to get carried away with exciting ideas or stunning designs, but without prototypes you run the risk of building experiences that don’t work for your users and thus producing a failed Product in the long run. Prototyping keeps you in check and has become an essential part of the workflow for modern UX and UI designers and, it’s one of the most important stages of the product design process like i said in my article titled “wireframing in UX- What you should know”.

What Is Prototyping In Design?
I will describe prototype as a draft version of an intending product, that allows designers test their ideas and concepts generated quickly and give stakeholders response — for example, team members or the client — the opportunity to physically interact with your design. That way they can learn what the design will look like and how a certain feature will work before it’s been fully developed. Remember it’s cheaper to make changes before coding, Prototyping prevents you from going too far down the line without realizing your assumptions were incorrect.

What Is The Purpose Of Prototyping?

The goal of a product designer is not just to design a fancy product, always remember that you are not designing for yourself rather you are designing for someone, so the goal is to ensure that the product satisfies the user’s needs. At the beginning of the design sprint, product teams brainstorm and form ideas that revolve around solving user’s problems. Sometimes, product teams skip right into developing a product without doing adequate user testing. When this happens, a waterfall design process is often followed, and all significant resources go into developing the actual product. If a product team fails to carry out the necessary rudiments, the product might fail…or will fail!, So it’s very very necessary for Product team to carry out adequate user testing and survey during the product design process

At times designers use the “ship early” strategy where they release a product prior to user testing and validate it with real users in the market. Sadly, shortly after product release, many teams realize that their designs have no traction with real users. But how do you ensure that your team builds a product that people actually want? By prototyping your ideas. Prototyping allows product teams to explore and validate ideas before investing too many resources in building an actual product.

What Are The Benefits Of Prototyping

There’s only so much you can achieve with wireframes, I discussed about this on my article titled.“Wireframing in UX — What you should know” They’re great for creating a structure and visual representation of the user interface and defining the user flow. Interactive prototypes, on the other hand, make your ideas tangible and testable. They enable you to explore visual designs you’re working on in ways that would be impossible to achieve with just static wireframes: you can show the intention behind a feature or the overall design concept before investing more time and money into development, easily present across multiple devices, incorporate real content and data, bring in users straight away to test and validate designs, and receive detailed, valuable feedback early on, increasing the chances of successful features.

Prototyping can be used effectively to uncover edge cases and help avoid issues later on in the process, saving you a lot of time, money, and stress. Evolving your ideas throughout multiple iterations of a prototype means you can work much more rapidly and collaboratively, refining your designs and making your product feel more intuitive as a result. Prototyping also often kickstarts insightful conversations and builds a stronger understanding between designers, developers, and engineers (who get a better idea of what’s possible to implement), clients (who get a better idea of what you’re working on and feel more involved), users, and anyone else who may have a say in the final product. In the end, prototyping is a great way to speed up the approval process.

Types Of Prototypes

Ideally, prototyping comes after empathizing, defining, ideation and validation in the stages of design thinking (and before testing), and it can take time until you’re ready to put your ideas into a prototype. However, it’s important to realize that these aren’t sequential steps and that prototyping can be used as part of various stages in the process. Also, there’s no single right way to build a prototype, and prototypes can be pretty basic. They range from rough paper sketches to very polished high-fidelity interactive prototypes, created with tools like Protopie, that look, feel, and function like a real product.

Paper Prototypes

These are especially useful at the beginning of the design process, as they help teams to experiment and try out various initial ideas. They often spark discussions and can be used as a first step to collaborate and communicate early ideas to stakeholders.

Low-fidelity prototypes

The purpose of these prototypes, which can already incorporate real content and clickable screens, is to validate the user journey and information architecture. They could be useful to give the client an initial idea of the user flow and to test specific interface elements. Benefits are that they are quick, easy, and affordable to create (making it a breeze to test early and often) and that they support collaboration. They’re not as aesthetically pleasing, however, and might require a bit of imagination to really understand their functionality.

High-fidelity prototypes

Finally, these interactive prototypes are much more refined. They can be responsive and already include detailed animations and smooth transitions. A realistic high-fidelity prototype is usually created (with a software tool such as Protopie or HTML and CSS code) once the team has a very good idea of the finished product and wants to show stakeholders what it has been working on to finalize the design. It’s also very useful for testing and validating designs with users to gather critical feedback.

Good Prototyping Results To A Better Product

Prototyping, when done quickly and frequently, is a very time and cost-effective way to refine digital products and make sure everyone involved is on the same page. The type and fidelity of your prototype always depend on the project specifics and personal preferences; but they can be a great asset in any stage of the design process and help improve collaboration especially between designers and developers and with stakeholders. Also a great tool for user testing and accelerating the final sign-off, prototypes have firmly established themselves as an essential part of the product design process. Prototype with the needs and requirements of your clients and users in mind and you’ll build a stronger product.

In my next article, I’ll talk more on rapid prototyping, prototyping testing and evaluation. Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, please let me know. 👏👏👏